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Mushroom hunting in Oregon? Experts share how to stay safe

Golden chanterelles are easy to identify, good for eating and common in Oregon, according to experts.
Dylan Eckert
Cascade Mycological Society
Golden chanterelles are easy to identify, good for eating and common in Oregon, according to local mushroom experts.

Mushroom experts in Oregon say the public should be careful when foraging this fall.

Edible mushrooms grow very well in Oregon’s public forests, and aficionados say the popular chanterelle variety has just come into season. But they warn that foragers are responsible for knowing what they’re eating.

“Mushrooms a lot of the time are like twins,” said Dylan Eckert, a board member with the Cascade Mycological Society. “They can look very similar and be very different at the same time.”

Eckert said a forager should avoid mushroom varieties they aren't familiar with.

“The easiest way is to learn one mushroom and be good with it,” he said. “Whatever your mushroom of choice is, knowing that to the point where you could identify it in your sleep.”

Eckert said chanterelles are a safe pick to start with. While one of its lookalikes can cause digestive pain, he said that won’t lead to serious illness.

However, he warned of eating unknown mushrooms that are small and brown. He said the deadly galerina can resemble psilocybin-containing varieties.

“Ultimately, it's the when in doubt, throw it out method,” said Eckert.

Galerina marginata can be deadly when eaten, and may resemble other small brown mushrooms.
Dylan Eckert
Cascade Mycologcial Society
Galerina marginata can be deadly when eaten, and can be confused with other small brown mushrooms.

For help with verification, Eckert said the public can use Facebook groups and iNaturalist, an app and web service. And he said there are guidebooks specific to the local region.

Additionally, the Cascade Mycological Society holds meetings each month at the Amazon Community Center in Eugene, with experts to help identify.

Eckert said the good news is that few mushrooms are truly deadly. And unlike with plants, he said most toxic varieties aren't harmful just to touch.

Instead, he said that an amateur forager is more likely to get injured or lost in the forest.

“Getting back into your vehicle safely is the true danger,” said Eckert. “So ensure that folks know where you're at, and navigate through GPS or stay on trails that you're very familiar with.”

Eckert said when done properly, mushroom hunting can be a great way get out into nature, be social and get the ingredients for a delicious dinner.

“There's something so enjoyable about having a mission, and in the meantime, you're being surrounded by beautiful trees, plants, and animals," Eckert said. "It's an adult treasure hunt."

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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